Abstract for: System dynamics study of interactions between interpersonal bonding and reporting culture for High-Speed Railway organizations

There is widespread interest among the transportation industry to learn from the Japanese HSR system known for its pristine safety performance. Recent experiences from the Japanese HSR emphasize the necessity to develop a sound reporting culture to improve safety. However, a systems perspective would argue that HSR organizations may face a dilemma when improving reporting and safety while improving interpersonal bonding among employees. This study aims to contribute insights towards understanding the systemic tradeoff between interpersonal bonding and incident reporting among employees within HSR systems. A causal loop diagram is presented and supported by case studies of current organizational practices within two Japanese HSR operators; and a System-Dynamics (SD) based numerical simulation model is utilized to identify the impact of interpersonal bonding on reporting culture. The study finds that a high level of inter-personal bonding is desirable for developing an safer work environment. However, the journey of moving employee teams from low to high interpersonal bonding stages can present obstacles, such that organizations may become trapped in a perpetual state of poor safety performance. Hence, organizations must adopt a multi-pronged approach, where interpersonal bonding improvements are accompanied by improvements to the overall positive effects that reporting can have on employees.